Almond Croissant from Old Village Bakery

Between Proof Bakery's strata and Black Cat's signature chocolate-and-cream cheese muffin (and even Sprinkles' new German chocolate cupcake), our de facto theme last week was baked goods. One more and we promise to stop… for a while.

Almond croissants are particular passion of mine. I order them in bakeries and coffee shops as a litmus test of their baked goods. On of my favorites can be found (if you arrive before they sell out) at Flying Saucers in Santa Monica, which means you're really eating an almond croissant made by Santa Monica bakery Le Pain Du Jour, which also provides all the bread the café uses to make their sandwiches. Until recently, I hadn't found anything that came even close to its greatness.

In a corner of Sunday's Atwater Farmers Market, known for the smoky meats of Bigmista's BBQ and a host of fruit and vegetable vendors, you'll find a couple tables covered in red-checked tablecloths and piled with rustic breads. The white vinyl sign for Mission Viejo's Old Village Bakery almost blends into the tenting. Behind the breads, their small, baked goods display case is easily missed. It's even easier to miss their almond croissants, which sell out quickly.

More is more with this almond croissant. Where some almond croissants go for minimalism (or maybe they're just cheap), Old Village Bakery packs what might be half a cup's worth of fragrant almond paste between layers of flaky, buttery croissant. The quantity is almost overpowering but the faint bitter tinge of almond undercuts the sweetness. In size, this a behemoth among croissants. In quality, it stands up to the most lauded of baked goods, even from nearby brick-and-mortar establishments like the excellent Proof.

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